use m for –

Following up on my post about formatting cheat sheets for songs, I tested out my cheat sheet for “I Wanna Be Loved By You” at a jam last night. One of the guys found that it was breeze. The other player had a tough time making sense of it.

One of the problems was that I wrote up minor chords by putting a dash after them, so “C minor” would be written “C-“. This notation is a jazz convention. Jazz players use ‘-‘ for minor, ‘+’ for augmented, ‘°’ for diminished, ‘ø’ for half diminished.

The guy who had an easy time with the chart is a jazz player. The guy who didn’t is a bluegrass player.

Bluegrass players use the convention of a lowercase ‘m’, so that C minor = C- = Cm.

I like the bluegrass style for a couple reasons. One, it’s intuitive. A beginner would probably guess what ‘m’ means but not what “-” means. Two, it’s visually distinctive. A dash is a tiny and hard to see, while a ‘m’ is very clear.

The down side is that it’s faster to write a dash than the letter ‘m’, and that a dash is more comfortable to jazz players.

I have updated the cheat sheet to use the ‘m’ style.

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